After making it through another Monday morning laundry list of after school to do’s, I was excited to finally be home. But when I walked inside, I didn’t expect to see so many messes scattered around. Didn’t I just spend this morning cleaning this room? I glanced at our kitchen chairs — the ones that I spent extra time wiping down this morning — only to find sticky prints on them. And then there was our sink full of cups, plates, and other items. I had already dedicated a good chunk of my morning to hand washing the dishes that our dishwasher didn’t fully clean. Now there was a new pile from lunch which would be followed by whatever would come dinner time. And then the usual afternoon squabble between Kaiden and Skye occurred. Time to go break things up, again. All the while Cora was walking around pulling things off shelves and out of cabinets.
So much of being a mom is repetition and in those moments I just felt overwhelmed. So what does an overwhelmed mama do? She goes into the bathroom, locks the door, and cries a little. In my dramatic state, I felt a little like the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes:
Meaningless, meaningless. All of this is meaningless. I wash dishes only to make more meals and have more dishes to wash again. I wipe down tables and countertops and floors, only to repeat it all meal after meal — and that’s just the kitchen!
(I know the issue at hand is trivial — and one that every mom faces, but I struggle with shifting from the complexities of a ministry and then turning to children whose needs at this stage are much simpler — like searching for lost shoes and trying to get non-washable markers off of objects.)
So then my emotions kicked it up a notch. I began to ask God questions like: “God, where are you in these things? How do these mundane details fit into your plan? How are you possibly using me in this?” I have the head knowledge and can respond to those questions with great textbook answers (in fact, I just posted about the importance of motherhood here)
but in choosing to give into my feelings, I chose to let go of my theology.
Thanks to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I soon recognized that I allowed my emotions to be my gauge rather than my guide. Feelings should be an indicator of my heart but something not to be trusted. My thoughts and reactions revealed my heart issues (like idolizing a clean house, amongst others). I also sensed the Holy Spirit reminding me that I’m feeling this way because I continue to do things in my own strength. Earlier I asked where was God in these details? He was there alright, I just wasn’t allowing Him to be a part of it.
And so I decided to get up and go fill my mind with something that would take my thoughts off myself and redirect me to truth. I turned on a song by the Getty’s (awesome, modern day hymn writers with doctrinally sound and theologically rich lyrics) called Still, My Soul Be Still. The lyrics read:
Still my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow (I didn’t plan or expect to be sad over something stupid but I was.)
God You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken (Wow. I want faith that isn’t ever shaken.)
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone
Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows (It sure is tempting to wallow in self pity.)
Still my soul be still
Do not forsake
The Truth you learned in the beginning (How could I so quickly desert the things I know to be true about God?)
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming
I love the line that mentions “fires of unexpected sorrow”. While there are so many more worse situations that I could be dealing with, the sorrow I felt over the state of my home was unexpected, indeed. And so I prayed along with this song asking God for peace, steadfastness, and faith that cannot be shaken – even by my own emotions. I don’t want to forsake the truths I learned in the beginning or to allow the temptation to wallow in self pity to win.
Mothering is a beautifully arduous task but it’s purpose is all about the long haul. It is a role that requires faithfulness, self-denial, and vision to see why we put the effort to train up our children (Prov. 22:6). I may not see the full ripening of fruit for several years but if I’m going to make it through the daily grind,
I have to be spirit led all the time.
I love the way a Bible study friend talked about her need for Jesus the other day: breath to breath. I need him day by day, moment by moment, and breath to breath. This coincides perfectly with a message our pastor just preached on the importance with walking with Jesus throughout our day and how we shouldn’t go for extended periods on soaking in His presence. By the power of the Holy Spirit working in conjunction with the truth we read in the Bible, He injects purpose into all things. And our purpose is to know Him personally, live in obedience to honor Him, and share the hope of the Gospel to all. But he not only gives us the purpose but He gives us the strength to endure. And so, the reality is that I need God in the dishes. I need him in the quarrels and squabbles. I need Him in the nose wiping and the sticky foot prints and the trails of messes. I even need him in the cleanliness. Whether mundane or complex, I need him in all the details. May His glory shine through it all.
My soul clings to dust; give me life according to your word! – Psalm 119:25
We recently took a week long, kid-free trip to Iceland (courtesy of my mother in law, sister in law, and friends watching our kiddos while we were away!) I was amazed at the natural beauty of the country and how such a small island can have such diverse terrain. We saw a variety of waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, volcanic rock, and so much more which helped me to better understand why it’s known as the land of fire and ice.
I think the thing that amazed me most about the country is it’s endless beauty. No matter where one stands in Iceland, there is always a breath taking view. These scenes display the incredible amount of creativity our great God has and I can’t help but think of the book of Job where God outlines His creation of and power over nature. Standing in the midst of powerful weather systems and grandiose landscapes made me feel so small and that’s how I feel when reading Job 38-39. He laid the foundation of the earth. He determined it’s measurements. He shuts the sea, holds back the clouds, commands the mornings, and so forth. We serve a great God in full control of every thing and that’s something I mustn’t forget.
But as beautiful as it all is, the scenery remains a part of a sin-tainted earth — and that thought stuck with me as we traversed around. I remember driving between two large mountains and seeing a rock tumble down from the top. It got me thinking about how what I see one day, may not look the same the next day. It’s deteriorating — not even just naturally but in the way millions of tourists carelessly trample around some well-traveled spots. The glaciers move, rocks crumble, water erodes, and even still it’s beautiful. So can you even imagine what heaven — a place that isn’t subjected to death and decay — will look like? If death and decay is beautiful here, my mind can’t even fathom what true life in it’s perfection and intended form will look like.
Outside of those two major thoughts, I just spent a lot of time wandering, praying, photographing, and enjoying time with my husband. I enjoyed getting into nature and not just observing it from a paved path or a car window. I loved learning from Ethan and enjoying the adventuring with him. I discovered my new love for hiking and am excited to do more of it here in PA. I prayed throughout the trip over a number of things but especially thanking God for how He reveals Himself through nature. I also re-sparked my love for taking pictures. Most of the time I’m photographing a last minute assignment for DRM or just trying to document my kids. It was so refreshing to have my camera in tow, free from ankle biters and free to capture something just because.
We had such a blast and I’m glad I have these photos to look back on and remember. I hope you enjoy scrolling through them!
This is Skógafoss which is a waterfall right by our hotel. It was so gorgeous but tourists were there by the busload so we didn’t stay too long.After loading all our stuff into our hotel, we hit the ground running and started hiking. We decided to avoid popular tourist areas and we found our own mountain. This one was covered in sponge moss. It felt like walking on soft pillows. I spent quite a bit of time hopping around, haha.
Here’s a POV of what the sponge moss looks like. (It’s obvious I was still learning to tie my hiking boots, haha! I didn’t want to spend the money on shoes that weren’t very “cute” but I’m so glad I listened to Ethan and invested in these Salamon hiking boots. These things kept my feet so warm, dry, and comfortable after miles and miles of hiking in all sorts of conditions.)
When it comes to hiking, Ethan is so quick it’s hard to keep up but he actually taught me quite a bit about how to hike smarter. I’m a born and raised city girl so his crash course was much needed!
This is the view from halfway up the mountain.
There are just so many little landscape details that make each little section so unique. It was a crazy thought knowing that this one mountain we climbed looks entirely different from the next one over. It’s also crazy to think about how much land is untouched and unexplored.Not far from the sponge moss terrain was a rocky stream of water……which turned into volcanic rock……and led us to this scene where three different types of terrain intersected. It was an incredible sight to behold.
This is a cell phone shot of the complimentary breakfast we received at our hotel. It was such a blessing to have this since every meal in Iceland is pretty much $20. I wish I could’ve taken home thousands of these croissants. They were always readily available for eating and whatever I burned off in hiking I ate back in pastries. American pastries will never compare the same.
The next day we walked miles and miles and miles of rocky terrain to get to this abandoned DC-3 plane.Ethan had to bring his penny to skateboard on it. (It was later we discovered that Justin Bieber filmed a music video and did the same thing. Ethan had no idea, haha!)Originally, he wanted to skate the top but it was drizzling the entire time we were there so I’m glad he stuck with the wing.
It was really cool seeing a beach covered in black sand. I’ve seen white sand beaches but this was an entirely different feel.
Occasionally, you will find a random rock creation here and there.
This fish and chips stand was right by our hotel. All the cod came from a local fishmonger and this was by far one of our favorite meals while there. They had this special Icelandic tartar sauce that was absolutely incredible.Our next stop was Seljavallalaug. (I still have no idea how to pronounce that!) It’s one of Iceland’s oldest swimming pools. It pipes in hot, geothermal water from the earth and is free to the public.The walk to Seljavallaug was quite easy. We laughed about all the blog posts I read that said it was difficult. There’s literally a trail marked out for you and it too less than 10 minutes to get to.There was so much beautiful scenery to take in while walking there.
I was secretly hoping we would have the whole place to ourselves but there were people in and out of here the whole time we stayed. I was just happy to be here and see the sun shine poking through this corner of the mountain. Swimming around in this pool while taking in all the beautiful scenery was definitely the highlight of our trip.
We pulled off on the side of the road to see what this was. It turned out to be a “haunted” cave with this wall built to protect the inside. It was pitch black when we stepped inside and, of course, Ethan successfully scared me.That night we heard there was a chance we could see the Northern Lights if we drove a few hours away. We made the trek out there but, unfortunately, we did not see them. But we did see thousands of stars and a planet, so the trip wasn’t in vain.Our good friends, Tim & Lauren, met up with us on day 3.
Here’s the boys scouting out the waves. This is my new favorite picture of us, taken by the talented Lauren Fair.
Here’s a cell phone selfie of all of us packed in our car. I didn’t realize how much time we would actually spend in the car driving from one place to another.
They brought us to the famous Fjadrargljufur Moss Canyon. It looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. Here’s another shot by Lauren. 🙂And another!This picture doesn’t even look real. (Image by Lauren!)Yepp. That’s the guys getting ready to paddle down this canyon.
See them floating?
While warming up in the Jeep, we watched the Justin Bieber video and saw all the things not to do in Iceland.We found more sponge moss and took pictures of the new Deeply Rooted hoodies here. I was such an awkward model but we did get one where I had a natural smile. This happened right after my leg fell through a hole, ha!
On the ride home, I spotted this cloud that looked like God took a paintbrush to the sky. None of the other clouds looked like this which made it even more set apart. (Anyone else think the cloud looks like an Emily Jefford’s painting?)I took this back at Lauren & Tim’s place. Ethan looked really cute sitting there talking and I took a picture so I would remember this moment. 🙂
This is a cell phone shot from the next morning and some of the drive by scenery that surrounded us.I spent the morning photographing Lauren for Deeply Rooted’s 2017 Fall/Winter issue. I wish I could show more!We made a last minute decision to go the Glacier Lagoon. Lauren was here the week before and there were no glaciers! Nature is a funny thing.
They find any excuse to suit up and paddle out.
Where do you think they paddled into?
The beach across the street has broken glacier pieces all over it’s shore. It looked like giant diamonds all over the place.The next day, the guys went surfing and the heavy waves completely smoked Ethan. I wish I could’ve gotten some of them in the waves but I didn’t bring a long enough lens (plus the sun was blowing out all the waves.)There are Icelandic horses everywhere. They are so beautiful and we pulled off the side of the road to photograph these cuties.
I wish my hair looked as awesome as theirs.
We were unintentionally twinning it up in our gray turtlenecks and green coats.
Our last days were spent in the city of Reykjavík.
We grabbed coffee at a local coffee shop…it was incredible.
This is a cellphone shot of our coffee. I actually ordered hot chocolate and just like the croissants – there is something about their version that makes it taste way better than American hot chocolate. I’ve actually tried making my own with an Icelandic recipe to replicate it. It’s close but not quite the same.
And here’s me walking awkwardly with my purple hat by a purple building. 🙂Their homes are so colorful!
Nope. We didn’t act like tourists at all. I discovered this cute shop called Farmer’s Market.There was so much pretty inspiration there.
“…the Father’s gifts were never intended to be ends in themselves, provided solely for personal growth or enjoyment. Rather, such provisions were meant to prepare the Christian for her true vocation: a life of service to others, in the name of Christ. ” – Miriam Huffman Rockness
I’ve been reading “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter”, a biography about an artist-turned-missionary and it’s been stirring up so much in my soul. This quote got me thinking about the creative gifts that He has given to each of us. For many years I pursued various forms of art with selfish purposes but in more recent years God has opened my eyes to the realization that He is the giver of talents and He distributes each of those talents with purposes that extend far beyond our limited scope. Knowing this should change our perspective on why we create in the first place. Our talents should first and foremost be for His glory — a reflection of the Creator Himself — but they should also be used as a means of service to others, in recognition of our true vocation.
Do not misunderstand, a Christian may pursue art as a vocation or hobby. I have plenty of talented friends making a living off their work just the same as any non-creative business would do. I also love new hobbies and crafting on the side whenever I get the chance. But I’ve known the addiction that the pursuit of art can bring. Art in and of itself should not be the end goal. If our lives are wrapped entirely around our tools, skills, style, and artistic goals, with little to no regard to the Giver of Gifts and His intents for those gifts, then it’s time to do a heart check and ask ourselves what our purpose in life really is.
Serving God and others, of course, will look differently for everyone. It could mean donating your lettering, design, or painting skills to a church, ministry, or charity. It could be using your photography skills for a couple or family who may not be able to afford much at all. It could be sewing or knitting things for local shelters. There are so many ways we can employ creative giving with our creative gifts. The question we must ask ourselves is: In what ways do You want me to give back the very things you’ve given to me? This quote reminded me to continually use creativity for His glory, to regularly examine my heart as I create, and to seek Him for ways to serve others in the process. There is so much more to be said on this topic but perhaps that will have to be a Deeply Rooted article. 😉
On that note, I’ve been on a much needed “vacation” from DRM. I overworked myself this year and the time off has been a blessing in so many ways. This past week I was able to pursue something sitting on my personal to-do list. Wall hangings have been a popular trend for a while now and something I’ve always been drawn to. I actually attempted to make a DIY picture frame loom two Summers ago. I bought all the yarn and it’s sat in my craft drawer ever since. (I blame that on the busyness/business, haha.) But Ethan got me a loom for Christmas and now I’ve finally gotten around to weaving!
I struggled to get the initial steps down and had to ask Ethan to help me. (That’s what I get for trying to learn from a E-book.) I’m so glad some of his military training gave him a foundation in sewing/knot tying between that knowledge and him watching some Youtube videos, he was the one to help me get started, haha! Once I got the basics down, I found this type of loom weaving to be so incredibly easy (and therapeutic.) Unlike my love for knitting, this didn’t leave my fingers aching which made me happy. It sounds lame but I stopped knitting mainly for that reason.There is also so much freedom to create whatever design or color palette you would like. I didn’t follow a pattern and just had fun experimenting with different types of string and techniques.
I didn’t realize it until seeing the picture on the right, but clearly my living room was inspiration without me even knowing it, haha.
The finished piece is hanging in our living room (for now!) I’m excited to try out more complex techniques and to perfect some of the basics. 🙂 I would love to have some sort of a looming get-together for anyone wanting to learn. I’m definitely not an expert but it would be fun to fill the living room with yarn, warm drinks, and both new and old friends. If you’re interested, connect with me!
This past year has been especially busy for our family. For this reason, I chose to scale back on certain things (like blogging and taking pictures) to make sure I had the time and energy needed for my first callings and business deadlines.
It’s crazy to think that I started 2016 with a post on Kaiden’s struggles with his dad’s deployment. A few months later, Ethan came home and all our energy was focused on spending time with him. However, there was a lot that happened that wasn’t posted. I spoke at a conference. Another Deeply Rooted issue released. We bought a farmhouse. Our dog passed away. I attended a TGCW16 in Indiana. Kaiden started his first year of real school. Ethan coached his soccer team. We hosted our first Deeply Rooted Retreat. And then another DRM issue was released. Holiday sales fell immediately after and all of that left me working nonstop from August until recently. Scatter in several of Ethan’s work trips where he was away and now things are finally slowing down enough for me to post here!
I feel like I’m beginning to catch my breath and I’ve made a commitment to myself (and to Ethan and God) to slow down next year and gused my time so I’m not so spread out. I do hope to be able to update more in the upcoming year as I love having an outlet outside of Deeply Rooted to share what the Lord has been teaching me. So here’s to finally getting some sort of a post up! These are just a few random pictures I took around our property yesterday. The temperature warmed up slightly and while I was letting the puppies clock in some extra play time, I decided to grab my camera.
They loved getting out of the house!
He needs a good brushing but, even still, his winter coat is so beautiful!
There is so much history in these buildings. We’ve really enjoyed the space so far, and I’m hoping to, Lord willing, finally get around to share some sort of a house tour in picture form soon.
When we arrived at the airport, we were told Ethan’s plane would be delayed. A 2-hour car drive and some change at the airport paled in comparison to the months he was away. We were about to be reunited with him and the extra hour didn’t matter to us.
The kids ran around the airport in excitement. We made a homemade sign that they couldn’t wait to show him. They wanted to smother him with hugs and kisses and update him on all the things he missed while he was away. After some time passed, they directed all the families awaiting loved ones to stand in the front. I left the stroller and diaper bag behind (for picture purposes, obviously – haha) and watched as the first soldier stepped out through the swinging doors just before us. Every family stared in anticipation at the unknown figure in camouflage attire, hoping it was their special someone. Slowly, men and women trickled in. A round of applause was given to each person stepping through the door. One after another after another poured in but Ethan was nowhere to be seen. Each time the door swung open our heart fluttered. As the number of people out the door grew, each person not my husband left us a little deflated.
The kids started getting restless. “I thought you said we were going to see Daddy. I don’t see him here,” Kaiden cried. “Where’s my daddy?” Skye chimed in. A chain reaction amongst the kids began and before I knew it all three kids were crying on the floor. We were unable to get to diaper bags and snacks and bottles for fear of missing the moment he would step out. We stood there – Cora in hip, Skye in hand, and Kaiden by my side – waiting and watching dozens upon dozens of servicemembers step out for four whole hours. (My arm muscles were sore for days to follow, ha.)
And then, finally we spotted a shadowy figure behind the luggage cart filled to the brim with gear — there he was! All the kid’s tears and moods were gone. Kaiden sprinted to his dad. Skye followed. I let them jump on him and wrap their arms around him before I got my turn. We gave each other a kiss and then he looked down at his daughter who had grown so much in six months. But she didn’t recognize him. She cried, clinging to me even tighter.
We made our way out to a less crowded space where we could just be and in those moments everything felt right in the world. Similar to labor pains, everything that precluded his arrival was nothing but a distant memory. We soaked in the fact that we were together in the flesh. No more broken up phone calls. No more updates of each other through pictures. We could hold hands and kiss and talk in person and hug and date. 🙂
We drove home staring at each other with dumb smiles on our faces, affirming the love that grew fonder even in distance. I praised God for returning my husband home safely, for having his hand of protection on us as he was away, and for strengthening our marriage while being apart. There is no denying that God sustained us in this season. <3
PS. My dear friend Marisa took these incredible pictures for us. They are actually for an article in our upcoming issue (releasing mid-October) where I’ve written about the deployment and how his homecoming is a beautiful illustration of our heavenly homecoming. Normally, we don’t post shoot photos prior to publication but since these are so personal (and because I’m the editor, haha) I’m posting. I’m just so grateful that we have these memories documented. Thank you, Marisa!
PPS. It took Cora a few days to adjust to her dad but after several puzzled looks and several cautious face grabs, she knew who Daddy was.